OK, I’ll be the first to admit that I am a hard head when it comes to letting others do the work that I can do. Maybe it’s an ego thing, male thing, who knows, but why pay someone if you can do the work yourself? Am I right? When it comes to establishing organized and efficient workflow processes in your business, however, sometimes it just makes sense to call in some outside help.
At the moment, I am in the midst of a a kitchen remodel. I started tearing apart walls, and building new ones. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I forgot how much work it was to do a major project like that. And, I forgot the fact that I am not 22 years old anymore. I worked my way through college doing construction and remodeling. I come from a long line of carpenters, so do you really think that I was going to pay someone to do what I can do–better?
The same logic applied when I was an IT director. No one knew the systems better than my team. It comes down to the point where we needed to re-think operations and functionality. So when it came down to knowledge, resources, and time, we had to swallow our pride and look for help for a certain project. We could have spent the energy and time to get educated in the technology, but for a limited-scope project, it was not practical. We decided to observe and learn in order to maintain rather. It was a much better use of our resources.
If you built the house, or wrote the original code, you know where all of the hidden gems are. However, if you are adding on or remodeling, or rewriting code, you uncover many little features only after you start tearing things apart. “What the heck were they thinking when they wired this house?” Similarly, when you start plodding through someone else’s code–more than likely not very well documented–things start getting ugly. In both scenarios, the cost and time go up and up…
It comes down to what you are good at, what you have time for, and how much money you have to spend in order to satisfy the requirements. Ranking these, time is by far the hardest commodity to come by. When I started the kitchen project, I notified my wife–about 100 times–that this will not take a week as on the makeover shows. It could get crowded, messy, ugly, and uncomfortable over the course of several months (that’s right, MONTHS). I could have spent a ton of money and had the kitchen finished in half the time, but then again, I’d have to live doubting my manhood over the course of time. Pride can be helpful and destructive at the same time.
In the case of application development, it is usually done to address a need. The justification is different in that you can have an immediate impact and can see a return on investment. Can you do the work? Do you have time to do this in the amount of time required? Can you afford to use outside contractors/consultants? The answer to the first question is usually, “yes.” The answer to the second question, is usually, “no.” And, the answer to the third question should be, “can you afford not to?” If you have time and expertise, you frankly do not need anyone else. If you do not have one or the other, then you really should consider getting some help. For instance, in the case of setting up an effective inventory management system, it often makes the most sense to hire outside help. Yes, there will be an initial investment up front, but then the positive return will pay for the initial investment time and time again. In the end, establishing efficient workflow processes will be worth it!
As much as I am going to hate doing this, I am going to have someone install my countertops when I get to that point. I have decided that I do not want to make an expensive mistake. Likewise, when you get to a point where you need to get an application or project done, don’t make an expensive mistake. It is probably best to act as a consultant on the project and add the value where you can. Spackle and epoxy can only go so far…